Cyclists peddle message of inclusion |

Cyclists peddle message of inclusion

Teri Vance
Shannon Litz / Nevada AppealThe Push America cyclists arrive at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada on Friday.

Ricky Rascon grew up with a father who is paraplegic, but as a boy, he didn’t really notice.

“I never paid attention to it,” he said. “I’d ride around in his wheelchair. I never addressed it as a problem.”

Rascon has worked for the last six years with Push America, an outreach project through the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, helping others to have the same mindset.

“Our goal is to raise awareness and funds for people with disabilities,” said Rascon, spokesman for the organization. “We just want to emphasize the capabilities of people with disabilities – acknowledge the people first, rather than the disability.”

Push America’s Journey of Hope campaign, a cross-country bicycle tour, made a stop Friday in Carson City to spread the message of equality.

The group started out in San Francisco and will cycle 4,000 miles to Washington, D.C., stopping along the way to speak to children about acceptance and empowerment.

Colin Rhinehart, 20, of Denver, Colo., was already a cyclist and joined the group to make a difference.

“It’s giving back to the community,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s just a ride, but it’s actually helping people.”

James Scharnikow, 21, of Georgia, hadn’t spent much time on a bike, but over the last 450 miles has become more accustomed to it.

“For me, it’s just kind of battling through it,” he said. “It’s not what I do on the bike, but what I do off the bike that gives me the drive to get through the day.”

While in Carson City, the group stopped at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada before moving on to the Northern Nevada Children’s Museum.

Cyclists talked about their mission and their goal to cross the United States on bikes – an impressive feat.

“I was amazed,” said Ryan Galloway, 8. “I got to see where they traveled and where they’re going.”

The riders also read to the children from a series of books, “Wendy on Wheels,” about the adventures of a little girl in a wheelchair, and talked about treating everyone fairly.

Logan Zaza, 9, said he took that message to heart.

“Don’t treat people by the way they look,” he said. “Just because they are in a wheelchair or have crutches or have a cane, you shouldn’t make fun of them. You should treat them nicely.”